Show More


Course descriptions for Topics courses

Each year the Department of Classical Studies offers one or more Topics classes, which focus on a specific area of Greek or Roman civilization or literature. Topics courses may be repeated for credit, provided that the topic changes. Topics courses are offered in English, with no knowledge of Greek or Latin required.

Topics courses in Classical Studies include CLST 200 (study of a specific topic in Mediterranean civilizations or literature), CLST 300 (the advanced study of a specific topic in Mediterranean civilizations or literature), and CLST 310 (study of a specific topic in Mediterranean archaeology).  There is also a Latin topics course, LAT 390 (an examination of a particular theme, author, or period in Latin literature). 

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

2015 Spring Topics Course

CLST 310A: Topics: Etruscan/Umbrian/Samnite Archaeology

(Spring, 2015 - Prof. Foss)  12:40- 2:10 TR

This course explores the archaeological and historical evidence for (and discovery of) the ancient peoples of central Italy, including the Etruscans, Umbrians, and Samnites.  The course examines their social, political, economic, military, urban, and ideological organization, particularly with regard to the adaptation and use of local landscapes.  The course tracks their interaction with Greeks and Phoenicians in the Iron Age, and considers their struggle for control of land and resources through the first century BC.  The course then turns to the legacy of these societies in Roman and post-Roman central Italy.  Students will engage dynamically with the material by designing and developing, throughout the term, an outreach session about an 'ancient Italic tribe' for schoolchildren.  This class is preparation for (but not limited to) students applying for the Trasimeno Archaeology Field School during summer 2015 in Italy, operated by the Umbra Institute and DePauw University. 

CLST310A: Topics: Archaeology of Cult: Sanctuary and Sacrifice in the Ancient Mediterranean World

(Fall, 2014 - Prof. Schindler)  12:40- 2:10 TR

How did the ancient Greeks and Romans worship their gods?  What does it mean to be polytheistic?  How did the concept of the divine develop from the Mediterranean Bronze Age to the early Christian period?  Through investigation of the material remains of cult practice, this course seeks to understand how past human cultures interacted with the divine world.  From prehistoric peak sanctuaries on Crete, to the Panhellenic sanctuaries of Olympia and Delphi, to the temple complexes of the Roman world, we will consider how location, architecture, and votive dedications communicate meaning.  Cult sites in the ancient world not only served as loci for ritual performance, but also as well as places of political and economic power.  Different categories of evidence - from marble sculptures to the remains of animal sacrifices - reflect the worship practices of diverse members of the community, challenging us to understand how ancient religion permeated all levels of society.  The methodological problems inherent in the interpretation of the archaeological evidence for cult practices also present an opportunity for us to examine our own assumptions and biases about religion in non-monotheistic cultures. 

There are no prerequisites for this course.  The evidence explored comes from the disciplines of Classical Studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, Art History, and Religious Studies.  Students majoring and/or minoring in those fields are encouraged to contact the instructor for more information.  For student majoring in Classical Studies, this course provides the opportunity to fulfill parts 2 and 3 of the writing in the major requirement.

2014 Spring Topics Course

CLST 200A: Topics: Greek and Roman Law

(Spring, 2014 - Prof. Guinee)  12:30 - 1:30 MWF

The class offers an introductory look at the Athenian and Roman legal systems.  In the first half of the semester students examine Greek forensic oratory to study both how the law worked and what we can learn about Athenian life from legal sources.  Thus we examine Athenian not only standards of proof, rhetorical strategies for appealing to juries, and other legal issues, but also class citizenship, slavery, and other social issues.  The second half of the course will survey Roman Law in general but concentrate on one particular area of Roman legal thinking -- how Roman Law dealt with wrongful damage to property.     

CLST 300A: Topics: Troy

(Spring, 2014 - Prof. Stewart)  12:40 - 2:10 TR 

In this course, we will explore the city of Troy in the context of history, archaeology, myth,
and modern popularity.  We will first examine the goals, motivations, and methods of the archaeologists who have uncovered Troy and contributed to the ongoing discussion of its place in history.  We will next survey the archaeological remains of the ancient city from its earliest occupation in the Bronze Age through its final abandonment in the Byzantine Period, focusing our attention on the conclusions, interpretations, and especially controversies inspired by the material and its excavators.  Finally, we will consider the memory of Troy, specifically its place in the ancient and modern consciousness, its meaning as myth, its use as propaganda, and its persistence in art and literature. 

CLST 300B: Topics: What is Beauty? Greek and Roman Aesthetics

(Spring, 2014 - Prof. Wells)  1:40 - 2:40 MWF 

Does beauty exist only in the beholder's eye, as an objective fact, as an emanation of the eternal? Plato on the beautiful-good, Aristotle on mimesis and catharsis, and Longinus on the sublime--this course will explore such ancient Greek and Roman theories of art and beauty.  We will also trace how ancient definitions of beauty and ancient aesthetic concepts of mimesis, catharsis, and the sublime influence some post-classical artists and thinkers.  No prior knowledge of Greek and Roman literature and culture is required for this course.  

2013 Fall Topics Course

CLST 310A: Topics in Mediterranean Archaeology: The Ancient House and Household
(Fall, 2013 - Prof. Stewart)  12:40 - 2:10 TR 

In this course we will examine the evidence used to interpret and reconstruct ancient Greek houses and households, from ancient literary sources and material remains to theoretical models and cross-cultural analogies.  We will also consider the social function of the house and the material correlates of those functions in the archaeological record.  Since ancient Greek women had important roles in the household, we will consider how the archaeological evidence might reflect these roles and support or contradict a gendered reading of the archaeological record.  Studies of ancient Greek domestic material are extremely popular right now, as the topic appeals to current interests in the non-elite, women, and the social function of spaces.  Recent work by archaeologists and art historians (such as Nevett, Ault, Allison, Hoepfner and Schwander, and Cahill) has demonstrated the exciting potential of household studies.  We will look critically at the kinds of questions scholars are asking and consider where the field should go next. 

2013 Spring Topics Course

CLST 300A:  Topics: Airs, Waters Places: Classics and the Environment
(Spring, 2013  - Prof. Wells) 12:30 - 1:30 MWF

The course title, “Airs Waters Places: Classics and the Environment,” repurposes the title of a Hippocratic treatise on the influence of place upon human health. In line with the Hippocratic investigation into the relationship between environment and human health, this course explores how ancient Greek and Roman thinkers and poets conceive of the environment and its role in shaping human culture and how the environment, in turn, informs the ideas and art of ancient Greek and Roman writers. The course begins with an overview of the environmental history of ancient Greece and Rome, then moves through a series of topics—cosmos (ecology), wilderness, farming, and pastoral–that progresses both from macro to micro perspectives of the environment and through time from ancient Greece, to ancient Rome, to modern receptions of ancient environmental literature. The course will be highly interdisciplinary, integrating consideration of philosophical texts, literary texts, material culture, economics, and a subfield of Classical Studies called Classical Reception, which investigates how, and why, ancient Greek and Roman literature and art has influenced the history of literature, art, and ideas since antiquity.

2012 Fall Topics Courses

CLST 310A:  Topics: Who Owns the Past?  (Cross-listed with ANTH 390A: Topics: Who Owns the Past?)
(Fall, 2012 - Prof. Schindler) 10:00 - 11:30 TR

The preservation of the world’s cultural heritage is increasingly under threat from modern development, environmental degradation, illegal excavation, and military operations. In this course we will examine the ethical and legal dilemmas inherent in dealing with the cultural productions of past populations. There are many stakeholders in the past. From governments and institutions, to descendant communities, archaeologists, and the general public, we will look at the rights and responsibilities that each group claims to have when it comes to using (and perhaps abusing) the past. Topics that we will address include (but are by no means limited to):

What is Cultural Property?: can the past be owned?

Preservation: what are we saving and why?

Research Ethics: what obligations do professionals (archaeologists, curators, etc.) have?

Stewardship: who should be responsible for the past?

Politics and War: what role should modern nation states play in preserving the past?

Meaning: what meanings do people attribute to the past?

As much as possible this course is run as a seminar. The focus is on discussion and critical thinking. Students will present and write-up individual research projects. In addition to the assigned readings, we will also work through a number of case-studies that present difficult ethical dilemmas. 

2011 Fall Topics Courses

CLST 300A: Topics: Before Socrates (Cross-listed as PHIL 309B Topics: Before Socrates)
(Fall, 2011 - Prof. Huffman) MWF 9:20-10:20
The road up and the road down are one and the same. - Heraclitus
For in no way may this prevail, that things that are not, are. – Parmenides
And indeed all things that are known have number. For it is not possible that anything whatsoever be known without this. – Philolaus
By convention, sweet; by convention, bitter; by convention, hot; by convention, cold... but in reality atoms and void. - Democritus
Western philosophy had its origins among a group of Greek thinkers who were active in the 200 years before the death of Socrates (600-400). Both Plato and Aristotle looked back to these Presocratics as important precursors to their own work. This early Greek philosophy was in many ways an heroic age of philosophy. These thinkers are characterized by the bold nature of their speculations and the breadth of their interests. They were poets, scientists, shamans, sages and physicians as well as philosophers. One of the central questions that they addressed was how the cosmos came to be and what the requirements were for something to exist or to be known. Heraclitus is famous as the philosopher of flux, who pictured the world as a river into which you cannot step twice without its having changed. Parmenides’ account of the nature of what is has led many to argue that he thought that all change and all plurality were illusory and that all that exists is one unchanging thing. Amazingly it is as a response to Parmenides that Leucippus and Democritus developed the atomic theory. Empedocles was the first to posit the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, which would be adopted by Aristotle and dominated much of ancient and mediaeval thought. The Presocratics were also concerned with ethical issues. Pythagoras believed in the transmigration of the soul and taught his followers a way of life that was directed at obtaining the best possible rebirth. Alcmaeon gave the first argument for the immortality of the soul. In this course we will try to do justice to the variety of interests among the Presocratics, examine the cultural context in which their speculations arose, try to define what it is that makes them philosophers, and most of all discuss the intriguing arguments they developed to support their bold conjectures about the nature of reality and what constitutes a good human life.

 2011 Spring Topics Courses

CLST 300A: Topics: Greek Oratory
(Spring, 2011 - Prof. Sears) MWF 1:40-2:40
This course is an introduction to the political and legal speeches of Athens during the 5th to 4th centuries BCE. During this time the Athenian democracy saw many changes in fortune, and ultimately came to an end under the rule of Alexander the Great and his successors. In connection with these speeches, we will examine several topics of interest: Athenian social, political, and religious ideology; the meaning of "proof" and "truth" in a world that existed before mass media or forensic evidence; and general techniques of persuasion. These topics are of immediate interest to those who wish to learn more about ancient Greek civilization, but are equally applicable to more modern cultures, since rhetoric (the art of public speaking) is and always has been of extreme importance in obtaining political power.

2010 Spring Topics Courses

CLST 262: Egyptian, Aegean and Near Eastern Art and Archaeology
(Spring, 2010 - Prof. Schindler) MWF 9:20-10:20
In this course we will study the art and archaeology of early civilizations that developed around the Mediterranean Sea. Our focus will be on the cultures of Egypt, the ancient Near East, and the Aegean Sea that developed during the Bronze Age (down to ca. 1100 BC). We will begin with the advent of agriculture in the first communities of the Neolithic period, and then follow the rise of the first cities and empires. Both regional developments and cultural interchanges are emphasized. Particular theses that we will address include: human-environment adaptation, the invention of writing and glyptic art, the art of kingship, the construction of monumental buildings (e.g. pyramids, ziggurats, Minoan palaces, and Mycenean citadels), patterns of daily life and rituals of death, the archaeology of social organization, trade, and the iconography of empires. Through this course you will learn to analyze archaeological materials from plain pottery to intricate fresco paintings. Through the reading of maps and plans you will learn to appreciate the delicate balance between the natural world and cultural developments. The course culminates in a research project that involves a group presentation and an individual reasearch paper.

2008 Spring Topics Courses

CLST 300: Topics: Before Socrates (Cross-listed as PHIL 430 Major Philosophers)
(Spring, 2008 - Prof. Huffman) MWF 10:10-11:10
The road up and the road down are one and the same. - Heraclitus
For in no way may this prevail, that things that are not, are. – Parmenides
And indeed all things that are known have number. For it is not possible that anything whatsoever be known without this. – Philolaus
By convention, sweet; by convention, bitter; by convention, hot; by convention, cold... but in reality atoms and void. - Democritus
Western philosophy had its origins among a group of Greek thinkers who were active in the 200 years before the death of Socrates (600-400). Both Plato and Aristotle looked back to these Presocratics as important precursors to their own work. This early Greek philosophy was in many ways an heroic age of philosophy. These thinkers are characterized by the bold nature of their speculations and the breadth of their interests. They were poets, scientists, shamans, sages and physicians as well as philosophers. One of the central questions that they addressed was how the cosmos came to be and what the requirements were for something to exist or to be known. Heraclitus is famous as the philosopher of flux, who pictured the world as a river into which you cannot step twice without its having changed. Parmenides’ account of the nature of what is has led many to argue that he thought that all change and all plurality were illusory and that all that exists is one unchanging thing. Amazingly it is as a response to Parmenides that Leucippus and Democritus developed the atomic theory. Empedocles was the first to posit the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, which would be adopted by Aristotle and dominated much of ancient and mediaeval thought. The Presocratics were also concerned with ethical issues. Pythagoras believed in the transmigration of the soul and taught his followers a way of life that was directed at obtaining the best possible rebirth. Alcmaeon gave the first argument for the immortality of the soul. In this course we will try to do justice to the variety of interests among the Presocratics, examine the cultural context in which their speculations arose, try to define what it is that makes them philosophers, and most of all discuss the intriguing arguments they developed to support their bold conjectures about the nature of reality and what constitutes a good human life.

CLST300A: Topics- Women and Literature: Ancient Greek Sources & Modern Versions (Cross listed as ENG264)
(Spring, 2008 - Prof. Altman) T Th 10-11:50
When we look into depictions of gender and sexuality in the Ancient Greek world, much seems strange to us. Still, much is also familiar, even foundational to how we think about gender and sexuality today. In law, education, and cultural life, we appeal to ancient models even as we rework them; and much important twentieth-century European and American literature was closely entwined with understanding, translating, rewriting the legacy of Ancient Greece. This new course will take a seminar/ discussion approach to exploring some connections and (disconnections) in the social construction of gender then and now. We’ll read many primary ancient literary texts, including drama (Euripides and Sophocles), poetry (Sappho and others), and a little philosophy, along with some historical and critical readings to put them in context; then some twentieth-century writers (including Anne Carson, Mary Renault, Jean-Paul Sartre, and others yet to be chosen) who draw on ancient inspirations for new gender stories. Guest lectures will help us understand some of the visual and archaeological evidence as well. All readings will be in English, though those who know Greek will be encouraged to read along in the original; the course may be counted toward a women’s studies major or minor as well as within the English department or Classical Studies.

Recent topics courses

The Archaeology of Ancient Britain (Fall, 2007 - Prof. Foss)
Image and Propaganda in the Ancient Art and Architecture (Spring, 2007 - Prof. Nitschke)
Ancient Athletics (Fall 2006, Prof. Seaman) Greek and Roman Law (Fall, 2005 - Prof. Guinee)
Ancient Cities (Spring 05-Prof. Liu) Senior Seminar: The Age of Alcibiades (Spring, 2005 - Prof. Huffman)
The Archaeology of Carthage and North Africa (Fall, 2004 - Prof. Foss)
Ancient Israel (Spring, 2004 - Prof. Schindler)
The Age of Augustus (Spring, 2004 - Prof. Thibodeau)
Before Socrates (Fall, 2003 - Prof. Huffman)
Ancient Mediterranean Religions (Spring, 2003 - Prof. O'Bryhim)
The Archaeology of the Early Greek City (Fall, 2002 - Prof. Erickson)
Ancient History in Film (Spring, 2002 - Prof. Foss)